Fishtown, PA

The Historic Philadelphia Neighborhood of Fishtown

fishtown_fish_homeOn the banks of the Delaware River, directly northeast of center city Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, you’ll discover a small, radiant and dynamic little neighborhood called Fishtown.

Fishtown is a unique and energetic neighborhood that is full of history, arts and culture; especially history.

It is home to the monumental place where William Penn and the Lenape Indians made the Treaty of Amity and Friendship in 1682 known as Penn’s Treaty.

Where Fishtown Began

The distinctive, dynamic community of Fishtown is steeped in a rich historical past, as well as artistry and tradition.

What’s more, Fishtown is built on the exact location where it is believed that William Penn and the Lenape Indians sealed the Treaty of Love, Peace and Friendship in 1682.

German fishermen along with their people populated the particular riverfront area and ruled the fishing marketplace. Those German fishermen and people are attributed with establishing the actual neighborhood heritage of Fishtown Philadelphia. was created to share my passion for Philadelphia’s history and photography. It is infused with the human voice of preserving the past and the spirit of today to preserve the memories.

This excerpt is from:,_Philadelphia:

The area was originally inhabited by members of the Turtle Clan of the Lenni Lenape Indian tribe (whom the Europeans named the Delaware Indian Tribe). The first European settlers were a group of six Swedish farming families, later replaced by British landed gentry, then British shipbuilders and German fishermen. Fishtown was originally a small section of the town of Kensington, close to the Delaware River and just a few blocks long. The original town of Kensington was only 191.5 acres of land and originally called the Fairman Estate. Today’s Penn Treaty Park sits where the Fairman Mansion once stood. Kensington was founded by Captain Anthony Palmer, an Englishman by way of Barbadoes. Palmer laid out his town and sold parcels to the local fishermen and shipbuilders. Anthony Palmer eventually became active in the provincial council and became acting Governor of Pennsylvania in 1747-1748. Palmer died in 1749 and was buried in Christ Church Cemetery in Philadelphia. (The Kensington Burial Grounds in Fishtown, also known as Palmer Cemetery, was founded around 1732 and is still an active burial ground, situated on land deeded to the community by the Palmer Family after Anthony Palmer’s death. It is believed that the cemetery was in use from about the time Palmer started to lay out the town of Kensington, but the actual date of the first burial is unknown.)

Within a few generations there was another influx of German immigrants, then still later in the late 19th century Polish and Irish Catholic immigrants. The community has three Roman Catholic Churches, St. Laurentius, built by the Polish immigrants, and the Holy Name of Jesus and the Immaculate Conception, both built predominantly by Irish immigrants. Holy Name along with Saint Laurentius and the Immaculate Conception continue to serve the community–albeit the latter two as worship sites and no longer as independent parishes.

The neighborhood has been working class for centuries; poverty grew after jobs left during the deindustrialization era, which afflicted many “rust belt” cities, Fishtown’s workers continued to maintain a stable working-class community. Most long-time residents trace their ancestry to Irish, German, and Polish Catholic immigrants.

In recent years Fishtown has experienced moderate gentrification characterized by significant rises in housing prices and the opening of upscale art, entertainment, and dining establishments. An influx of artists and professionals has joined the ranks of police officers, fire fighters, nurses, carpenters, electricians, stonemasons, plumbers, sheet-metal workers, and teamsters. The neighborhood was chosen by the state of Pennsylvania to be the site of the SugarHouse Casino gaming complex on Delaware Avenue near Frankford Avenue. This choice deeply divided the neighborhood, causing conflict between those who believe it will bring jobs and economic development and those who believe it will lead to increased crime, addiction, and other social problems which negatively impact quality of life. A Community Benefits Agreement was reached between SugarHouse Casino and the membership of Fishtown Action and the New Kensington CDC, which will provide money for community projects that would not otherwise be available to the residents.

It All Started Here: Shackamaxon = Fishtown

The very first inhabitants of the region were native Americans – Lenni Lenape Indians, also known as Delaware Indians, who fished and farmed the agriculturally flourishing terrain.

Early in the nineteenth century, Fishtown Philadelphia grew to become the leader of the shad fishing marketplace on the Delaware River. Throughout the mid to late nineteenth century, Fishtown transitioned from a farming area and became more of a manufacturing center for the fabric marketplace while Philadelphia grew into one of the leading forces for the industrialization of America.

In the early 1920’s, life began to change substantially and then the Great Depression took the country off their feet. The manufacturing market started its downfall and Philadelphia entered a period of economic decline. The spectacular industrial facilities eventually became deserted shells while close-knit communities such as Fishtown pulled together and worked to enhance its identity and preserve its heritage.

A Note From The Author

Over the last decade, the residents of Fishtown have seen our fair share of lengthy and costly litigation. A business that has helped a number of Fishtown’s residents – including me personally – is a lawsuit funding company called TriMark Legal Funding LLC. They provide something called lawsuit loans or pre settlement loans; they are basically cash advances to people who have been injured and are involved in lawsuits stemming from car accidents, slip and fall accidents, all kinds of negligence, work-related and employment litigation, medical malpractice cases and lots of other types of personal injury lawsuits.

While they are a national company and are not physically located in Fishtown, I wanted to give them a mention anyway because they really helped me out when I was in a bind and I know that a lot of folks here in Philly, and all around Pennsylvania and the Northeast for that matter, could benefit from the various kinds of financial assistance that they provide. Tell ’em Vic sent you!

philadelphia-loveFishtown Today

Nowadays many of the former industrial facilities have been completely transformed into flats, living spaces and creative lofts. Numerous coffee shops, restaurants, pubs and shops can be found lining Girard Avenue. The local Fishtown community gathers frequently for parades and fairs as well as concert events.

Today’s Fishtown is made up of 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Polish, German, Italian and Irish immigrants along with a significant population of college students, young musicians and a nice variety of artists. Fishtown is just minutes away from Temple University and downtown Philadelphia with all of it’s thriving arts, theater, cultural and historical icons such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, as well as the more well-know cultural centers and the financial district.